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Free schools in Tonbridge and Maidstone among 49 announced by Prime Minister David Cameron

By Kent Messenger reporter

Prime Minister David Cameron has today announced 49 additional free schools across the country - including two in Kent.

The plans include a new secondary school for Maidstone and a primary for Tonbridge.

The School of Science and Technology in Maidstone will focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The education minister announced the free schools pledge. Stock image.

The education minister announced the free schools pledge. Stock image.

It will cater for up to 800 students and forge links with the Singapore School of Science and Technology to give children an international knowledge of the subjects.

In nearby Tonbridge, the Bishop Chavasse Trust - which runs the existing Bennett Memorial Diocesan secondary school in Tunbridge Wells - will open a 420-place school in 2016.

The Church of England primary school, named after 1908 Olympic athlete Christopher Chavasse who went on to become Bishop of Rochester, is expected to open in 2016. 

Its aim is to inspire youngsters in sport, courage and faith with pupils taught by teachers from the secondary school, focusing on literacy and numeracy.

In its proposal, the Trust said it intended to start the school day at 8am with an optional breakfast club, though children would be expected to engage in 'meaningful learning activities'.

David Cameron during an earlier visit this month. John Westhrop

David Cameron during an earlier visit this month. John Westhrop

The formal school day would then begin at 8.45 and end at 3.30, with the option of an after-school club until 6pm.

An exact location has yet to be determined, though in its application the Trust indicated it would be a new build with government funding and likely serve the south Tonbridge area.

Nationwide, an extra 36,000 places will be created by the scheme.

More than 400 free schools have been approved since 2010, creating more than 230,000 school places across the country.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan hailed the policy as “the best possible education that prepares them [pupils] for life in modern Britain”.

She went on to describe free schools as "one of the most modern drivers of social mobility".

Education secretary Nicky Morgan

Education secretary Nicky Morgan

Prime Minister David Cameron said delivering the best schools and skills for young people was a crucial part of the government's long term economic plan to "secure a better future for Britain".

He added: "Free schools set up by teachers, parents and community groups are not only outperforming other schools, but they are raising the performance of those around them, meaning more opportunities for children to learn the skills they need to get on in life. 

“These new schools are an important part of our plan to improve education by raising standards and restoring discipline so our children can compete with the world's best and enjoy a better future.”

Kent already has a number of free schools, such as Maidstone's Jubilee Primary School, in Fant Lane and Tiger Primary School in Boughton Lane, Loose. 

Others include Hadlow Rural Community School,  Trinity School in Sevenoaks, The Wells Free School in Tunbridge Wells, and the Wye School in Ashford. 


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